ISSofBC helped over 940 Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) from 17 different countries build new lives in Metro Vancouver in 2014—the highest number of arrivals in over 10 years.
ISSofBC assists GARs through an array of settlement services under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) including temporary housing at the organization’s Welcome House on Drake Street in Vancouver.
A total of 941 out of a yearly target of 800 GARs arrived in 2014 with 85 per cent from Iran and Iraq. In addition, 241 or 29 per cent were children and youth under 18 years old.
“This number represents a 46 per cent increase compared to 2013 arrivals. This is good news as it means more refugees were resettled and offered a chance to continue their life in a safe place. But most people coming from the Middle East are suffering from physical or mental health issues, are survivors of torture or have other high needs,” said Caroline Dailly, ISSofBC Resettlement Assistance Program Manager.
In 2015, ISSofBC staff is anticipating continued significant arrivals from the Middle East in addition to Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has also indicated 10,000 Syrians will be resettled to Canada over the next 3 years. This new commitment is part of Canada’s current target however the amount of Syrian refugees destined for BC is still unknown.
ISSofBC is the only organization to provide resettlement support and temporary housing to GAR arrivals in BC through its Welcome House. In the spring of 2016, the organization will open a new immigrant and refugee support centre in East Vancouver. In addition to providing temporary housing, the new Welcome House will encompass all the support and services refugees will need to build a new life in Canada.